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Cal 20, California 12, Navy 11, Us 7, The Navy 3, Southern California 2, Miramar 2, Afghanistan Or Iraq 1, Northern California 1, San Francisco 1, North Island 1, Ray 1, Yeager 1, Duncan 1, Chiu 1, Chaney 1, Catalina Island 1, United States 1, Gac 1, Realtime 1,
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  SFGTV2    [untitled]  

    March 23, 2013
    6:30 - 7:00am PDT  

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santa anna wind event. some of you may be familiar with that. within california we utilize an approach of local jurisdictions, state jurisdiction and federal jurisdiction, depending on the area and whoever has authority. with respect to cal fire, we are the third largest fire department in the nation and the largest in california with over 7,000 uniformed employees. we also have the largest aerial fire fighting nreed in the world. so typically when a large disaster type fire occurs, we are usually rendering aid, not asking for aid. so when we get into a situation when we get to that level, what we call mega fires is the new term we're using, we're reach a certain draw down level or certain criteria, we reach out to our military
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coordinators, hence our agreement with the third nraet and the one map locally in san francisco under ir cal fire prides itself on a statistic that we contain 97 percent of all wild fires in california with 10 acres or less and we do this with an aggressive report of incidents, even with a 911 call of smoepk with land, air and ground attack. once fires become to a large enough scale we call mue tour aid, california lass a great mue tour aid system. i think it's looked at nationally because we have souch excellent cooperation with our cooperating agencies. once it reaches that point, the team will come in and assist the local jurisdiction to run that incident. when we start having multiple fires in a certain area, then we get into what we call area
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command. i think that provides the overview. >> i talked a little bit about mou's and relationships with the marines. maybe we can talk about how is the national guard and dod resources and capabilities integrated into the command and control at the fire and also the supporting ops centers whether it be the gac or other centers down there. maybe our military personnel can talk about that, or ray. >> it's important to note that we are the supporting effort to cal fire and we get called in when they are basically out of assets. we are working for cal fire, they are the incident commanders, we follow their coordination, typically we're the last ones in and the first ones out. we do have an on-going relationship with cal fire, i'm in contact with cal
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fire all the time. we have good situational awareness what's going on in the state of california. they normally put us in an alert stat us so we're prepared to respond in an attack mode. i don't often work with chief chaney in southern california, about a month ago we had 9 aircraft at our peak working fires throughout northern california if that answers your question. >> any other responses? >> i wanted to touch -- can you hear me now? i wanted to touch on that last topic as far as the command control because what we have here in the marine corps is similar to the navy. we have the installation, the regional installation command and also partners with the operational foresite. we allow
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the operational foresight, we maintain those but then we coordinate, cooperate, with the operational foresight once the call comes in for support. so we're able to do that obviously through memorandum of understandings and we have agreements and our wing operating orders allow for the fact the operational control, at least under operational response, maintains with the operators. the third aircraft wing maintains operational control but we send our operatives out to be controlled by the civic sight. we're comfortable with that and that's matured a lot in the last couple years. >> talked a lot about command and control and agreements and moving resources. one other question that came up yesterday we were discussing yesterday is how do communications occur
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specifically with regard to when we start talking about air ops and moving air resources around, how do we ensure that we have that interoperatability that we discussed so much yesterday between the different components. >> can you hear me now? perfect. it all begins with preplanning and strategic planning ahead of time. how our agreements at a local level were born was out of the 2003 cedar fire. the cedar fire was about 280,000 acres. as an example, i have the dubious distinction of being one of the first chief officers at the scene of that incident. just to give you an idea, at peak the cedar fire was burning 30,000 acres an hour. so that's about 9 acres a second. so something probably as large as this ship in one second.
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so after post-cedar fire, we recognized the navy had assets and the marine had assetness region that we should capitalize on, so i was tasked by my chief to organize a local letter of agreement so that we could, with the objective, essentially, was to streamline access to dods assets in rapid fashion and by rapid i mean within hours. if we're dealing with the level of incident that i just described, the cedar fire was essentially over in 12 hours. it started about 5:00 that night, it actually took off and started running at 11:00 at night, by 9:00 that morning it was at the gates of marine corps station miramar and it was essentially stopped. dska is an excellent tool but we needed to go a rapid route,
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which is ir we'll talk about training later, but that's a big component. and the colonel hit on a good part about we use persistent forecasting and weather forecasting to look at when we have these fire weather red flag warning stand in the wind events. i start reaching out to my counterparts with third fleet and lieutenant colonel demigan giving them a heads up. we (inaudible) navy and marine corps assets when we have severe weather events take place because we know if we're going to have that severe weather event, we could have one of those mega fires. we have a complex air space management tool. i'm the equivalent of a fact a, i fly
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in the ob10 bronco as a fact a and my job is to coordinate air space. we're dropping water and fire retardant instead of bombs and rockets. we work closely with cal guard, navy and marine corps aviation. we do that with squadron training. we still have khal lefrpg wills, i'm not going to lie to you. we have issues where tactical to air communication is difficult. cal guard, we purchased the radios for national guard aircraft and they installed them in their aircraft so we have robust communications with california national guard, with navy and marine corps it's still a work in progress. we have a work around with that with respect
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to tactical communications and we use coordinating helicopters to handle air to ground tactical situations and that is relayed to the aircraft that are in trail. it's not perfect but it's a work around and it keeps everybody in the fight. >> prior to 20011 2011 the navy fire fighting capability was concentrated in one squadron. in 2011 it began to expand to other helicopter squadrons. one consequence of that would be multiple squadrons providing aircraft to cal fire to support the fire fighting effort and one somewhat simple but very effective solution was the use of defense connect on line, the dco chat room. basically cal fire personnel, along with all
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the individual squadrons, all connected realtime able to communicate and coordinate both from the squadron and also on scene. >> well, thank you. let's go ahead and move into relationships. we had a significant discussion yesterday about relationships and again the highlighted and supervisor chiu's comments this morning. how do we ensure they are enduring past the past couple years. >> as general speese said yesterday, we are here for the long time. on the installation side which we coordinate with cal fire and the navy we have annual exercise and we hit that every springtime prior to the fire season. i think what's also, it's important to remember that although it was stressed, the military members are members of the community as well so let's
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not forget that as far as active duty. although we're transient in nature, sometimes we're in deployment, many of us are home owners and we live in that community. we are part of that community as well. just like the guard, we have an interest in protecting our friends and neighbors. sustainment is, it's important to us and we'll maintain it especially on the region side. we're able to have these long-standing relationships while the operating force side goes forward and supports the on-going efforts, we are able to stay back here and sustain those relationships. >> just to follow on that, the navy squadrons that provide fire fighting capability are a combination of active and reserve components. one benefit of reserve components is more longevity is pilots in the squadrons. you may have
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people who have been there for 6, 7 years and have seen multiple fires. that mutual trust is absolutely essential to this capability. >> a couple things that come it mind real briefly, we're talking about wild and land fires primarily but rest assured amongst the group here we're always thinking in an all rest capacity. cal fire's mission is we are the state's fire department. we are thinking about all risk missions whether it's fire, flood, natural or man made disaster, whatever the case may be. some of the great dialogue we had yesterday, one of the scenarios i envision, there's a couple scenarios that i have heard before keep me up at night and one of those is the 7.8 in the la basin. conceptually one of the things we could look at is a mass of casualties to decompress the la hospitals in that event. so
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we're thinking in an all risk capacity. relationships are about mutual respect which we covet, especially in the dod realm. we do that through training and meeting together. one of our things we're very proud of is on an annual basis we get together and we conduct a 3-day training exercise as well as squadron level training: the first day of the exercise is a telecon exercise to make sure when they pick up the phone they are talking to the commander, whether it's navy or marine corps. we discuss our local letters of agreement, what they can and cannot do, how we stay within the box of dsca and ir and what the
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culmination is with a fire drop where we're dropping watter. we conduct aircrew briefings simply because cal fire recognizes that you great folks have a primary mission, that's defense of the nation and we respect that and we understand this is an ancillary job and there is a high revel of rotation of people coming back from afghanistan or iraq, whatever the case may be, but we also reach out to squadron level training. it really comes down to meeting with your cooperating agencies and training together on a frequent basis and having good and open dialogue. >> as i look back at that map here, knowing we were heading into that time of year where we're going to hit significant fire weather and knowing
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northern california as we are now but eventually southern california, one of the most effective ways to stop the fires from growing is that initial attack, which means we need to be able to quickly put resources up in the air and move them. i guess my question is from a national guard perspective, from a naval perspective, with the helicopter resources down there, do you feel you would be able to quickly move those resources and you have the agreements in place. we'll start with the national guard and work on our way down. >> although we're advertised as a one week a month and two weekends a year, i've got crews on pretty much every day and if cal fire calls i can get crews out in just a matter of hours. we did do that about two months
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ago, the robbers fire, and it worked out real well. cal fire went in real aggressive and put out the fire in a short period of time. so there's no issue with us being immediately available, we've got our buckets, crew trained. >> as an example of that, 2007 we saw -- 2003 we had the cedar fire and we all thought the cedar fire in 2003 was a fluke. it was the first mega fire that california really experienced. and we thought, well, it will be, that's a career fire, that will be it. then 2007 came around. in 2007 we had another fire siege, same weather scenario, but we didn't have one cedar fire, we had five of them just in my county alone so we were inundated by a large scale disaster in 2007.
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as an example of our agreement and the efficiency of that agreement is we had orders to (inaudible) at 0000 that day. that's a 4 hour activation time and that shows the dedication and effort to leaning forward to the mission with these agreements that we can have a 4-hour activation. i've been in this business a while and i'll say that's unprecedented with any civilian emergency services agency going to a dod asset and having it engage in 4 hours. >> commander, anything you want to share? >> more recently in 2012, two squadrons provided 3 aircraft and the notification process was approximately 2 to 3 hours. we have expanded the capability in the navy, as i
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said earlier, and that allows for that rapid surge response which was put to the test in august. >> on this most recent lightning complex fire, it was a little bit different for us as far as what happened there. like cal fire wants to, just like we all do, is aggressively attack things. but we have the applicable policies and orders that really regulate us a little bit because it's got to meet certain thresholds and sometimes like in this last one, it was a remote fire, very small, but it didn't meet some of the thresholds initially but we postured and as soon as it crossed the line they were ready to attack it aggressively. those are challenges we have to work with as well but we're ready to provide that immediate response when necessary. >> we talked a little bit so far about training exercises
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but maybe from the navy perspective, the marine perspective, the national guard, what training exercises are you doing right now to integrate with cal fire or other local governments to make sure that we're ready for this fire season? >> well, as far as i expressed earlier, we have the springtime exercise. that was our fifth annual one. we will obviously continue that through. just like we were speaking about yesterday, maturing the process in our relationships as well. what we're doing here is again in a typical marine corps fashion, we're going to move this forward into a more combined arms event. we have been previously doing the aviation operations but now we do have a robust capability within the one map on the air in aviation site on the ground piece as well as far as we have built in the plan as far as getting dozers, things like that, the logistical piece and
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making it a more robust exercise. initially what we looked forward to was on the initial capabilities exercise, the initial day, is to build a lot more friction into it. it's working through the orders. what constitutes the approval to enter into action. we can't just go at the call, it has to meet the threshold but we want to be able to attack aggressively and meet the intended desire but, again, we're going to build that within next year's springtime exercise. >> thank you. let's go ahead and move over to a discussion of resources and there's a number of resources that dod brings to bear whether it's personnel or equipment or systems that they have. as i look back to my experience with the 2003-2007 fires, the one
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that stands out to me is the use and integration of helicopters. i can remember after the 2003 helicopters doing a field hearing with duncan hunter about the integration of helicopters and how better to integrate them. there's been a lot of discussion about that but do you feel we're ready this year and we are able to integrate those capabilities not only from a command control perspective but from a communications perspective for this fire season? anyone want to elaborate on that? >> can you hear me? okay, perfect. yes, we feel we're confident that we have, the bottom line is any aviator knows safety is paramount. we greatly respect navy, marine corps and guard safety policy. cal fire has an aviation policy as well. we work cooperatively with the agencies here at the table to ensure when we are engaged in
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an aerial fire fighting event we are working within each other's policies. we have trained in a work around, we can do close air support with navy and marine corps aircraft, with the current system we have. would we like to improve upon it? absolutely. we have gone very high up in the organization to try and look at getting the r210 radio modified to the point where it can work on our vhf spectrums, that's one of our challenges we need to move forward with. but overall we're confident when we do call upon dod assets to integrate with civilian aircraft, the training regimen we put forth will keep aircrews safe and also have them be effective. there was a lot of questions from a political level as well as a public level. you've got aircraft sitting at north island, just launch them, get them in the fight. it was hard to explain to them that that's
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a very delicate air space when you have fixed wing and rotary wing sharing the same air space. our aircraft are fixed wing, typically 150 feet agl at 200 knots but they didn't understand the calm complex of that. it would be like me showing up to the battle of belugia with my civilian fire helicopter and say i'm here to help. i would not expect to do that because i don't know the com protocol, i don't know the doctrine on engagement. it was tough to explain that to a political body and the public why cal fire isn't launching everything we have and the marines to fight a fire. we've worked hard to educate them, i
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think a lot of them get it now but it was a challenge initially. >> thank you. do you want to say anything? >> yeah, i wanted to comment on operatability within the california national guard. they worked really well within the framework that we established with cal fire and then beyond that throughout the national guard and the army, all of our aviators train to the same standards so really we're able to integrate any aircrew from any state, any component, into our program at any time because we're operating you noah cording you know, according to the same standards. back in 2008 we had a very large fire event here in california and we aircraft from 22 states responding to that. there is capability to
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respond within the national guard alone and we have started developing relationships with our title 10 partners, we do similar academics every year like they do so i think that helps generate interoperatability amongst the title 10 and title 32 assets within the state as well. >> well, i don't know about you all but i feel pretty comfortable going into this fire season. it sounds like we have a pretty integrated group not only within the military capability you but state and local capabilities and federal capabilities for this fire season. with that i'm going to go down the line. as we get to our military partners i'd ask if there's other technologies that you think that you have that you want to share about that may be helpful as we start to get into fire season. please share those with us. ray, if you'd like to start. >> sure, thank you. first off, thanks for being here, it's my first time being here
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and i think it's an outstanding venue to meet the cooperating agencies and talk about policies and ways we can improve our response to the public that we serve. we look at title 10, title 32 resources in all aspects, all risk venue, like i said, not only aircraft but we utilize ltax for our agreements with la county fire, to mobilize fire engines to catalina island. we look at resources for debris cleaning, i found out there's a desalization battalion for fresh water, that's an i object credible resource for an earthquake. there's a variety of dod resources that cal fire can provide in a statewide environment. i think the biggest thing for me, there's several scenarios
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that are challenging us, one of which and one of our fears, and it's been in the newspaper so it's not a secret, but one of the things that scares me as well is the united states is not really experienced what i would call a global disaster yet. we have had disasters, i was in katrina on an urban search and rescue team, i've been in pretty much all major engagements as far as wild land fires in california, but if you look at a global disaster perspective where you have a hundred thousand victims like a tsunami or a large scale event, we have yet to experience that in this nation. i think the agreements we have here today and the relationships we develop today are going to be key to mitigate that. the other scenario that we are concerned with is a coordinated aerial incendiary attack by al qaeda. one of the things we've
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seen already in the european union is suspect of al qaeda starting fires in the eu if that happened in california in the right weather conditions, it would be disasterous and everybody in this room would likely be involved. but to go back, it's all -- for me it's all about relationships, it's all about communication and respecting each other's mission. we certainly appreciate our relationships with all 3 agencies up here. the last thing i would say with respect to technology, one of the things as a command and control tool that cal fire is experimenting with is a program that dhs science and technology created and if you are ready to write it down, you can look online, you can google it, it's called the next generation incident command system or nics. it's a command and control web-based tool that we're looking with mit lincoln
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labs and dss and i would foresee when we stand up our wing operation center at miramar that the marine corps liaison and the navy liaison and if need be the guard liaison would have access to that tool. the next generation command system is a fantastic web-based command and control technology that we expect to use in the future. with that, thank you. >> thanks. colonel yeager. >> i just want to say you can't underestimate the risk presented by these environments we fly in and really the relationships that we build with cal fire and the training prepares us to mitigate that risk. as rear admiral riveras said, bad things tend it happen at night. they also happen on the weekend and i think we have a 3-day week jepld here but i assure you we are ready to respond. >> from personal experience in 7,